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Asian Journal of Agricultural Research

Year: 2013  |  Volume: 7  |  Issue: 1  |  Page No.: 43 - 50

Performance of Jatropha (Jatropha curcas L.) under Different Soil and Climatic Conditions in Kenya

Charles Obiero, Rhoda Birech, Maling`a Joyce, Ng`etich Kibet and Bernhard Freyer


As the world’s fossil fuel reseverves is shown to be out of oil supply in a few years from now, efforts to finding an alternative, environmentally friendly and sustainable sources of fuel have been heightened towards on-farm biodiesel production and industrial processing of bioethanol. Jatropha (Jatropha curcas L.) has been selected among other biodiesel feedstocks targeted for this on-farm biodiesel production with intensive production witnessed in India. In Kenya, however, smallholder farmers are found growing Jatropha despite the limited knowledge about its agro-ecological adaptability. The study hypothesis was that regions for biofuel production have not been properly identified in Kenya. Therefore, the objective of this research was to study the performance of Jatropha under different soil and climatic conditions within the smallholder farms in Kenya. A quantitative baseline survey was conducted from July to August, 2010 in 140 randomly selected farms in Lamu, Kibwezi, Nyando and Bondo districts of Kenya (35 per district). A qualitative in-depth study of 5 farms chosen randomly from each region was also done to verify the information obtained. Results showed that performance of Jatropha was positively linked to humid conditions, well distributed annual rainfall of 500-750 mm, moderately sandy to loam soils, neutral pH and good level of management. It was concluded that good crop management together with climatic and soil suitability are important for successful Jatropha production. Furthermore, it was evident that not all regions where Jatropha is promoted for production in Kenya, though, with suitable climate and soils, support the crop without proper crop management practices.

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